KTVU's Steve Paulson interviewed Robin Grossinger and Erin Beller of SFEI to learn how their historical ecology work in Napa has shed light on ways that natural processes might help, rather than hinder, flood protection strategies.
The two scientists describe the practice of historical ecology, its rigor and its challenges, as well as what light it can shed on ways to work with a watershed's potential to yield more optimized ecosystem services. The Napa River is a key location highlighted for the many benefits of its restoration. Industry and impervious surfaces have been replaced by marsh and salmon- and beaver-spawning habitat. In turn, these environments offer protection from adverse flood conditions, if managed appropriately. Historical ecology research provides insights to help guide more sustainable techniques for environments of multiple use and multiple benefit.
See the following video for another illustration of ways that SFEI's influential message about restoring natural watershed processes is connecting meaningfully with a mainstream audience.
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Friends of the Napa River, the Napa County Resource Conservation District, and SFEI have carried out investigations into the historical Napa Valley landscape. This research provides baseline information about local landscape conditions and potential future restoration scenarios on the valley floor.
This collaborative effort culminated in the richly illustrated Napa Historical Ecology Atlas, published by UC Press in 2012.
New York (January 25, 2016) – In today's New York Times, the San Francisco Estuary Institute and its scientists from the Resilient Landscapes program inspired the newspaper's broad readership to look back in time to see a clearer future.
The Napa Valley Historical Ecology Atlas takes readers on a richly illustrated tour of the iconic Napa Valley landscape from 200 years ago to the present and future.
Using the pioneering SFEI Historical Ecology approach, the Atlas challenges many preconceived notions about the nature of California landscapes, and suggests strategies to increase the health and resilience of local watersheds based on an understanding of how natural systems function. The Atlas is designed to support a broad range of local efforts for ecological restoration and watershed stewardship in Napa Valley, while providing a new and accessible model for historical ecology studies in other regions.